Evaluating the San Diego Padres’ Draft Success in the A.J. Preller Era

Credit: USA Today Sports

Credit: Fox Sports

Since Padres General Manager A.J. Preller took over in August of 2014, San Diego has developed the strongest farm system in all of baseball. As the draft continues, we take a look at how the team has fared in terms of developing their draftees since Preller has taken over.

There has been a multitude of draft picks by Preller’s regime over the years, who have generally been very successful in pro baseball.

We’ll go through each year and check in on the progress of each player drafted, to get an idea of how well the team has drafted since 2015.

We’re going to look at each big leaguer selected since 2015 by the team to evaluate Preller’s work.

2015 Draft

This was the only year the team didn’t have a first round pick in the Preller era, yet they still found some strong value regardless.

Here are the big leaguers they drafted that year:

Round Pick Number Player School Position B/T Class
3 86 Jacob Nix IMG Academy (FL) RHP R/R HS
4 117 Austin Allen Florida Tech (FL) C L/R JR
11 327 Brett Kennedy Fordham (NY) RHP R/R JR
17 507 Trey Wingenter Auburn (AL) RHP R/R JR
20 597 Phil Maton Louisiana Tech (LA) RHP R/R SR
34 1017 Ty France San Diego State (CA) 3B R/R SO

As we can see above, there were six big leaguers in this class, four of which were drafted in the 11th round or later. Three of those six players are currently on the Padres’ active roster today. What stands out about this class is the vlaue the team found in the later rounds of the draft.

Jacob Nix made his debut for the Padres last season and had an up-and-down performance with the team. He’s currently rehabbing an injured ulnar collateral ligament injury to his elbow and is still hoping to return this season. Brett Kennedy also debuted in 2018 for San Diego but is on the injured list with a right shoulder strain. Phil Maton has been splitting time between the big leagues and Triple-A El Paso in 2019 but remains a semi-useful bullpen piece for the team. Trey Wingenter debuted in 2018 as well and has become among the Padres’ best relievers this season. That’s a pretty great outcome considering he was a 17th rounder four years ago. Even that story can’t top the story of hometown San Diego State third baseman Ty France, who was drafted in the 34th round by the Padres. He’s been a fairly useful fill-in at third while Machado has played Shortstop for injured shortstop Fernando Tatis, Jr. Overall, this was a very strong draft class.

2016 Draft

Although this class has yet to produce as many big leaguers as the previous year, that’s largely as a result of them still developing in the minor leagues. There are certainly more players who will contribute in San Diego at some point down the line.

Round Pick Number Player School Position B/T Class
1 8 Cal Quantrill Stanford RHP L/R JR
2 25 Eric Lauer Kent State LHP R/L JR
4 114 Joey Lucchesi Southeast Missouri State LHP L/L JR

What’s rather strange is that Cal Quantrill was the last of the three pitchers above actually to make his big league debut. He’s looked like a solid rotation piece in the starts he’s made and has a strong chance of sticking with the team in the years to come.

As for Lauer and Lucchesi, they both joined the Padres in the majors around the same time at the beginning of last season. While they have certainly never been amazing pitchers, this season they look to have locked down rotation spots and pitched pretty well for the team. They’re at least back end rotation starters but have pitched like mid-rotation arms thus far in 2019.

2017 Draft

It’s too early to tell if many of the players drafted in this class will make an impact in the big leagues, for the most part. However, there is one player who has surprisingly already ascended to the major leagues in Nick Margevicius.

Round Pick Number Player School Position B/T Class
7 198 Nick Margevicius Rider LHP L/L JR

While his first ten starts have seen him pitch both amazingly and terribly, it’s an accomplishment in itself that the 22-year-old lefty has made it to the show so quickly. There is plenty of time for him to figure out how to better utilize his abilities in the major leagues. It’s impressive that the Padres found a player in the draft two years ago, who would be ready to make an impact on the team in 2019.

Looking at each of Preller’s draft classes, it’s clear that his regime is great at scouting. With the best farm system in baseball at his disposal, it may now be time for him to use some of his top prospects to upgrade the big league roster right now. A large part of what’s made the Padres’ farm system so strong has been their ability to select quality players in the draft. Building from the ground up, Preller has already produced some quality homegrown players that we’ve discussed above. If this draft success continues, the Padres will be in contention for years to come.

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Conrad Parrish
A sophomore at Willamette University in Oregon, Conrad is majoring in Spanish but is also a writing center assistant for other students at Willamette. He has been a Padres die-hard his whole life and hopes to bring comprehensible statistical analysis to the site.

1 thought on “Evaluating the San Diego Padres’ Draft Success in the A.J. Preller Era

  1. Seeing that AJ did get Josh Naylor for castoff Andrew Cashner; they essentially had a first rd pick in 2015 ( 12th pick).  Austin Allen is finally showing life and could end up being a viable option out of the pen. He is currently in Ft. Wayne.

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